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Full text of "NightRider"

442

of the file on steel—small, stern, measured—would -be the only
sound.

For some time Mr. Munn remained there, looking down
the lane, then off across the fields. From the house behind
him there came, now and then, the muffled clatter and chink
of dishes and pans, or the low murmur of the voices of the
women as they moved about their occupations. Some jays
wrangled distantly on the bluffside, Then they catapulted
brilliantly, glitteringly, across the empty sky, to hide them-
selves in the mass of the white oak by the gate. Mr. Munn
straightened himself, stepped off the porch, and walked
toward the bluff.

He stayed on the bluff all day, except for a little time when
he went back down to eat a silent meal with the others. He
lay on his back and looked up at the sky, absorbed in that
emptiness, that perfection. There were no clouds, not even a
little white boll stabilized singly and gleamingly in the upper
distance. Once, toward the middle of the afternoon, he
noticed the steady, black fleck of a buzzard which spiralled
up, southward, into the area of his vision. He watched it
for a while, then grew tired and turned away. When he
looked again it had been lost in the central reaches of the
throbbing brightness. Willie Proudfit, he thought, had once
lain on those high mountains, far away. He had stared into
the thin, pure blueness of that strange sky. He closed his
eyes, and wondered what had led Willie Proudfit up to the
high mountains, to lie under that strange sky, for Willie
Proudfit had not been able to say it in words. What had he
found there? What, Mr. Munn demanded. He could not
say. But he knew that Willie Proudfit was himself, and
knew what he was. He knows what he is, he thought, and I,
I do not know what I am. He opened his eyes, and stared
again into that dazzling distance.

When the sun, reddening and heavy, was almost touching
the ridge to the west, he went down the path from the
bluff.

After supper, when they had all gone out to the porch, Mr.